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Mar. 19, 2014 10:30 am

Aahana: Drexel incubator accepts its first social good company

Drexel University sophomore Rina Patel decided to create Aahana, a non-profit organization to help underprivileged women and children in rural India, after a trip to her parents’ villages in Ahmadabad, India.

Drexel student Rina Patel started Aahana, a non-profit organization, to help underprivileged women and children in India. Photo courtesy of Drexel University.

Student entrepreneurs can be social entrepreneurs, too.

Drexel University sophomore Rina Patel decided to create Aahana, a nonprofit organization to help underprivileged women and children in rural India, after a trip to her parents’ villages in Ahmadabad, India.

Aahana, which means “first rays of sun,” is not a class project. It’s Rina’s personal philanthropic endeavor — and it’s the first organization of its kind to receive space in Drexel’s business incubator for students, the Baiada Institute.

Patel has a history with fundraising and humanitarian work: “While I was in high school, I did a lot of fundraising on my own to raise money for countries like Haiti and Japan,” said Patel in an email.

But now, in college, Patel wants to pursue causes that are closer to her heart.

“I wanted to start my own organization that would target [...] the location that I was most passionate about: the villages and town around where my parents were born and raised.”

Patel has partnered with Human Resource Foundation, a local organization in India, to work with the Mamta School of Disabled Children in Gujurat, India (near her parents’ villages). She’s already raised $20,000 for food, clothing and bedding.

Next, her goal is to help build a new school for young deaf and disabled children, and she plans to raise $100,00 more to fund it. Patel also helped to launch a 90-day training program to help women from rural villages learn beauty trade skills (like henna and embroidery) and start their own small businesses.

Patel also opened Aahana chapters at the University of South Florida, Purdue University and Virginia Commonwealth University, to work with students across the country to educate others. She wants to challenge common perceptions of India among her peers in the US.

Now, Patel partners with other Drexel student and local Indian-American organizations to provide more support to Gujarat. Her goal is to “make it more sustainable … to provide aid and educational programs to more schools in India,” according to a press release.

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Frida Garza is a student at the University of Pennsylvania studying Creative Writing. She's interested in tech, entrepreneurship and great ideas. A Texan relocated in the Northeast, she loves exploring Philly, especially if it involves coffee or food trucks. She is usually reading something on her phone or planning her next meal.

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